By on August 15, 2019

Steph Willems/TTAC

Automotive collectibles emerge from pop culture all the time, but this particular auction item can be assured of stratospheric bids. It’s an icon, one that’s thrilled generations of audiences for 51 years, ever since San Francisco’s nattily-dressed Lieutenant Frank Bullitt spotted a suspicious black Dodge Charger in the rear-view of his Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang 390 fastback.

Two identical Mustangs went into the Holy Grail of all movie car chases, but only one remains in drivable condition (the subject of this story didn’t have to endure the suspension-twisting jumps). Ford pressed both it and Steve McQueen’s granddaughter into service during the 2018 Detroit auto show, using the historical eye candy as a backdrop to its launch of the new Bullitt edition ‘Stang.

Come 2020, the actual Bullitt Mustang will change hands. Who the lucky bastard is who gets behind the wheel remains to be seen.

Late last night, owner Sean Kiernan announced on various social media platforms that his family, following “a lot of conversation and prayer,” has decided to sell the original Bullitt Mustang.

Unrestored, and with only minor repairs dotting its service life, the Mustang piloted by McQueen’s character has spent the majority of its mainly quiet life with the Kiernan family. The car passed down to Sean following the death of his father, Bob.

A year and a half ago the car’s life changed, and along with it, the family’s. Its appearance at NAIAS brought it much attention; everyone wanted to get their hands on the faded ‘Stang, be it for a TV spot or car show appearance.

In an Instagram post, Kiernan laid out what happens next.

“I can promise that we have thought this through together and decided that this is the best decision for the family,” he wrote. “Bullitt has been part of my family for 45 years and we have celebrated her in the grandest way possible, and now it will have a new role and new meaning to the future owner. Mecum Auctions will handle the sale of the car and it will headline the Kissimmee, Florida auction in January 2020. The announcement of the car will be made in Monterey, California by myself surrounded by long time friends on August 14th at 3pm Pacific.”

“I have accomplished what I set out to do with the car; Tell my Dad’s story in the best way possible and share the car with the world,” Kiernan added. “I had no idea what to expect when we unveiled the car in January 2018 in Detroit, but since then everyone has been absolutely excited and respectful to see the car and hear the story. I have met many awesome people along the way and have heard many amazing stories. Thanks to each and every one of you, and I will continue to be very active in the automotive/Mustang community.”

Kiernan provided a list of the vehicle’s remaining appearances following this week’s Monterey Car Week announcement. Those looking to glimpse the vehicle in the flesh can see it at Kentucky Summer Nights on August 24th, the Mecum Dallas Auction in September, Charlotte AutoFair in October, and SEMA in November.

As for what price the original Bullitt might fetch in Kissimmee come January, it’s undoubtedly something you couldn’t pull off without a dose of criminality.

[Image: Steph Willems/TTAC]

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32 Comments on “Behind the Sport Coat: The Bullitt Mustang – Yes, That One – Heads to the Auction Block...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    It’s going to go for insane money, and it’s worth every penny.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I have been a fan of cars for as long as I can remember and long before from what I’m told, but I’ve never seen Bullitt. I was largely unaware of its existence until sometime in the early 2000s, likely corresponding with the 2001 edition. While this particular car ultimately means very little to me I certainly understand and respect the reverence most car people have for it.

    My guess would be to have the hammer fall right around $2 million… reserve not met. Ultimately I believe this is a first showing to get interest levels up to get the price higher in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Hmmm, thinking about it more, I’m going to raise my guess to $8m. Though I stand by the fact that it won’t sell at any price. It is an attempt at establishing the current value.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meh I’d rather buy a fresh chassis if I was going after the OG Bullitt look or buy the currently in production one.

    Maybe if I had silly piles of money laying around I would “get” the market for these but I don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      thalter

      Agreed. While I get the historical significance, for my mere mortal money you could get a perfectly serviceable tribute, like this one that just sold on BaT a few days ago: https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1967-ford-mustang-fastback-19/

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The ‘King of Cools’ personal Ferrari sold for over $10 million. And although that model is more exotic than this, it is not as important culturally.

    The Bullitt is coveted by more than just car enthusiasts. Film enthusiasts also consider it to be iconic. As do ‘cultural historians’.

    Who wouldn’t want to put on some slacks, suede shoes, a turteneck and sport coat and drive around in this looking for a Charger to chase?

    Or go home to a young Jackie Bissett who is wearing nothing but one of your dress shirts?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      One could likely get a night with a Jackie Bissett doppelganger for less than this will sell for.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Wheel

      Agreed with the Jackie Bissett comment. As nice as the Mustang & Charger are, she was the most beautiful thing about that movie.

      Probably a tough decision to sell, but really what can he do with it? It’s not like you can just keep it in the garage like any old jalopy, & head out for Dairy Queen runs. It’s worth too much & can stop traffic. It’s probably why it was in hiding for so many years. It can consume your life.

      I did figure when it was time to sell, it would be at Pebble Beach or Barrett-Jackson like others have noted to draw the most money. Mecum in Kissimmee? Nothing against them, but this car can draw some money in the right auction.

      I’m wondering if Ford ever made them an offer or “please give us a call first if you decide to sell.” This would be great at The Henry Ford Museum. Maybe they will bid on it.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Hmmmmm… I’ll need to see if a buddy of mine wants to go to the Mecum Dallas auction to see it. Twenty bucks for a one-day ticket.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Mecum? This kind of surprises me a bit. Seems like Barrett Jackson crowd brings more $$ or higher lines of credit. I can’t recall a Mecum auction car selling for more than 2M, most probably there have been a few just none that I can recall.

    Barrett will allow for a reserve on really special pieces, which this one most certainly is. The owner of the car has been gracious to allow the car to be shown, it would be a shame if it goes back into hiding for another 20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Beranek

      Mecum is slowly catching B-J in terms of hammer prices for the last couple of years. It is true that there are still a ton of bargains at Mecum, especially on Thursdays, but the Saturday cars are almost as elite. The cars are Monterrey tomorrow will certainly bring some big paper.
      Of course, B-J sells a lot more because John Stalupi sits there and buys almost everything!

  • avatar
    thornmark

    forget the Mustang, I’ll take the Charger

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s overrated, so is the movie. Its value is dropping like a rock as Boomers die off, enter care facilities, etc. Yeah there won’t be a better time to sell. $600K

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      I don’t know about that….there’s a lot of (young) McQueen fans out there. I suspect that this will sit in some rich guy’s man cave for a while and rarely get driven.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ll agree that the movie was overrated.

      But the chase scene in the movie was NOT overrated, though, and McQueen was pretty much the s**t.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The car chase is overrated too. It might have been the greatest chase up to 1968, but also the small community of fans/car nuts (that happen to be millionaires too), ready/able/willing to snatch up a famous, but old rusted car is shrinking by the minute, making it a heavily depreciating asset.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Agree that the number of people willing to pay a large fortune for Steve McQueen related collectibles will shrink. However currently they are at or near their peak regarding net worth and time to spend on their habits.

          And there will always be some McQueen fans. Just as there are still Bogie or John Wayne fans decades after their deaths.

          As for the movie, without McQueen it would not be as popular as it is. He carried the non car chase aspects of the movie. Few if any other actors could.

          The car chase was extraordinary for its day. There were 3 real drives involved behind the wheels of those cars. Nearly every movie car chase made after owes something to it. When the ‘drive’ in the Charger puts on his seat belt, you know that it is serious. I cannot watch the CGI garbage that passes for car chases today.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It’s just every time I hear it referred to as “The Holy Grail” of movie car-chases, it’s like nails to the chalkboard. It’s the standard answer, and that’s fine for anyone with a passing interest in automobilia, movies and related, so I give them a pass. But that’s not us!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Have to agree with you about the movie. One GREAT car chase in a really, really boring movie. Ronin was far better.

      But the best car chase movie EVER was the original Italian Job.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        No doubt. But I’m positive the car chase in “To Live and Die in LA” blew away everything that came before it, if not of all time. So I’m sure there’s a few others that top Bullit, we’re just not aware of.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Unless you are going by time in a car chase, then Vanishing Point should be up there. It was one long drug addled car chase. Not that it was a great movie.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      It was funny…Just the other day was the 25th anniversary of the Woodstock 25th anniversary festival. Upon reviewing the bills I realized that I much preferred the 94 show’s acts to the original.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    A fool and their money will soon be separated.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    A dream only for the likes of me .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    lastwgn

    My guess would be that the car is being listed with an unspecified and unobtainable reserve to establish a market value. Some time after the auction is complete, the unsold Bullitt will quietly find its way to a proper museum with the family being fairly compensated. At least I would like to think that is what will happen. It would be unfortunate to see the car in the hands of some private collector that simply has more money than sense.

  • avatar

    I like this car because I like 67/68 Mustangs. There is something about the styling that appeals to me. Like some have said – especially lastwgn – I truly hope it ends up someplace where anyone interested can view the car.


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